Cooking with Kids!
Cooking with your kids can be an enjoyable way to introduce them to new foods. How many of us have had the bottle of "I don't like that" when they haven't even tried it? Easy recipes help your toddlers learn to have a good relationship with food. It should be fun for them to explore new textures and flavors. Helping make a simple snack or meal gives kids a confidence boost, too. They feel a sense of accomplishment when they can enjoy something they've made.
The idea of cooking with kids can sounds intimidating because of the mess or the potential dangers in the kitchen, but fear not! There are simple ways to engage your kids while still being safe and somewhat mess free.
The best way to get kids to help is to start with a simple no-cook snack. It helps them practice coordination, and you can incorporate some simple kitchen safety rules for them to build on to be able to handle the more involved recipes later.
NO COOK SNACK: Ants on a Log
Cut the celery into smaller stalks for your child to wash. After they've washed the celery and patted it dry, give them a butter knife to fill it with peanut butter. An alternative to this is to purchase the individual squeeze-packs of peanut butter, snip off a corner, and allow them to squeeze it onto the celery. After the celery is filled with peanut butter, top with raisins.
Alternate version: If your children can't have or don't like peanut butter, you can achieve the same type of snack with cream cheese and fish crackers. This version is called Fish in a River!
A snack like this is simple but has a lot of nutrition packed in! There is protein and fiber to help keep little tummies full. The celery is a great source of Vitamins A, C, and K as well as potassium and folate. When it comes to snacks, try to look for things that are not only fun, but also give your kids lots of vitamins and other nutrients.
NO COOK SNACK: Cracker Fruit Pizza
Whipped cream cheese (plain or flavored)
Fruit of your choice
Have your child wash and dry all the fruit you are going to use for your cracker pizzas. After doing so, spread each cracker with the whipped cream cheese of your choosing. Give your child a cutting board and a butter knife. Allow them to slice the fruit into smaller pieces under your supervision. Make sure they are handling the knife safely since butter knives can still cut little fingers. After slicing the fruit, place it on the cream cheese and enjoy!
Alternate version: If you want a sweeter treat for your kids, you can mix in a couple of tablespoons of powdered sugar with the cream cheese. It will have a more frosting like flavor to it.
These mini fruit pizzas are the perfect introduction to cutting skills. Fruit tends to be very soft, so it takes less force to put the knife through and decreases the likelihood of the knife slipping. It also allows for a safety knife or a butter knife to be used. Just make sure the kids and knives are in arms reach at all times, as little hands can be mischievous!
KID FRIENDLY RECIPE: Mini Pizzas
Toppings of your choice (pepperoni, sausage, veggies, etc.)
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Split apart the English muffins and put them in the toaster. You want to toast them a little bit first, so that the sauce doesn't make them soggy. Doing this in the toaster will allow your little one to help assemble the pizza sooner rather than waiting for it to cool down from the oven. (If you'd rather, you can toast them in the oven for three minutes.)
After toasting, lay them on a baking tray and let your kids spoon some sauce over the top, then top with cheese and whatever toppings they've chosen. Place the tray in the oven for 5-6 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly. Allow to cool, and enjoy!
Use these as a main dish and encourage your child to pick out a fruit and veggie to go with it. Get the whole family involved as you each decorate your own mini pizzas. Encourage your child to try one topping that they might not have picked before - maybe a veggie, like peppers or mushrooms. It's okay if they don't like it, but at least they tried something new!
Whether you start with a simple no bake snack or jump right into full recipes, don't let cooking with your little ones stress you out. You are starting them off on the right foot by introducing food in a healthy and fun way. Make is an enjoyable time of connection with your kids that can continue for years to come! I can't count the wonderful conversations I've had with m y children while we have made something together. There might be messes that come with cooking, but the memories that are made will be something that you both will treasure for the rest of your lives.
Jamie Riskedahl, Aug 2022